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Study underscores importance of a father's involvement during pregnancy

June 21, 2010 | 12:22 pm

It seems like every other day healthcare professionals are coming up with new pregnancy wellness tips -- ones generally aimed at expectant mothers. But future dads have roles to play -- and a study by researchers at the University of Southern Florida shows just how important the man's role can be during this critical time.

The findings, published in the Journal of Community Health, reported that involvement of future fathers during a woman’s pregnancy was linked to a reduced risk of death during the first year of the child’s life.

The researchers examined birth records of more than 1.39 million live births in Florida from 1998 to 2005. Paternal involvement during pregnancy was defined by the presence of the father’s name on the infant’s birth certificate. Though this is far from a perfect measure of a father's involvement in the pregnancy, the methodology has worked fairly well in prior studies, said lead author Amina Alio, a research assistant professor of community and family health at the USF College of Public Health.

The study’s findings, encapsulated:
  • Regardless of the mother's race, ethnicity or socioeconomic status, death during the first year of life was nearly four times more likely for infants who lacked paternal prenatal influence.
  • The risk of infant mortality for babies born to black mothers who lacked paternal involvement during their pregnancies was seven times higher than for babies born to Latino and white women in the same paternal situation.

-- Jessie Schiewe

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